University of Florida

Interesting Facts about Poinsettias

The poinsettia is a popular winter holiday plant with history dating to the Aztecs during the 15th century. Celebrate the season by learning these surprising facts about this festive plant known for its vibrant color.

  • Poinsettias are native to Mexico where they are known as “La Flor de la Nochebuena” or “Flower of Christmas Eve.”
  • Poinsettia Day is celebrated on December 12 to commemorate Joel Roberts Poinsett—the U.S. ambassador who introduced the plant to the United States in the early 19th century.  
  • Poinsettias are also popular in Mexico on December 12, where the plants are used during the celebration of the Lady of Guadalupe.
  • In the United States, poinsettias were named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, which is the reason the plant name is sometimes capitalized.
  • Euphorbia heterophylla is Florida's native poinsettia plant.
  • Poinsettias aren't poisonous or toxic, but the latex in poinsettia sap may cause irritation to those with latex allergies.
  • Although the poinsettia is called the lobster flower and the flame-flower because of its red color, the red parts of poinsettias are actually petal-like leaves called bracts.
  • Poinsettias can grow up to 12 feet tall in the wild.
  • There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias with bracts in an array of colors including white, orange, and purple.
  • Poinsettias are the best-selling plotted plants in the United States and the most popular Christmas plants.
Adapted and excerpted from:

E. Seltzer, “Poinsettia Facts,” University of Illinois Extension (Accessed 12/2014).

Poinsettias,” UF/IFAS Extension (Accessed 12/2014).

Poinsettia Fun Facts,” UF/IFAS Suwannee County Extension (Accessed 12/2014).

The Meaning of Poinsettias,” EPA Blog (12/2012).

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